Chinese Premier Li Qiang vowed Sunday to reduce trade barriers and attract more foreign investment, as the world’s second-largest economy has been slumping amid a property sector crisis, while the country’s worsening business environment has dampened sentiment among many overseas companies.
Li said at the opening ceremony of a major trade fair in Shanghai that Beijing will work with all countries to “jointly build an open economy,” as the global economic recovery has lacked momentum. President Xi Jinping also sent a letter to the event and pledged that China will continue its “high-level opening up.”
Xi’s message was read out by Vice Premier He Lifeng at the start of the sixth annual China International Import Expo. More than 3,400 companies from 128 countries and regions participated in the trade fair, which will be held until Friday.
Li added that China’s imports of goods and services are expected to reach a cumulative $17 trillion in the next five years.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang speaks at the opening ceremony of a major trade fair in Shanghai on Nov. 5, 2023. (Kyodo)
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who is visiting China and is the first leader of his country to do so in around seven years, told the ceremony that the economies of Australia and China have a “complementary nature,” and pledged to “work constructively” to build stronger bilateral ties.
In a sign of improving bilateral relations that became strained during the government of Albanese’s predecessor Scott Morrison, China lifted its import restrictions on Australian coal and barley and has been reviewing tariffs imposed on Australian wine imports. Beijing is Canberra’s largest trading partner.
Amid concerns over Beijing’s tightened counterespionage law, as well as U.S. curbs on China-bound semiconductors and other high-tech items, foreign direct investment in the Asian country turned negative for the first time in the July-September period since comparable data became available in 1998, official data showed.
As China and the United States prepare for a summit meeting between their leaders in San Francisco later this month, the U.S. federal government took part in the import expo for the first time.
From Japan, companies such as Panasonic Holdings Corp., cosmetics maker Shiseido Co. and the Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing Co. joined the event.
The government-linked Japan External Trade Organization exhibited over 650 items from some 150 Japanese companies including food, alcohol and confectionery goods, as well as those related to camping, pets and winter sports to help the firms expand their sales channels in China.
China-bound exports of Japanese food items have been affected by the release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, which began in late August. Beijing has imposed a total ban on seafood imports from Japan and customs procedures for other food items have been delayed.